AN American session musician has won the right to stay in Scotland after an immigration judge strongly rejected a Home Office bid to deport him.
The government was told yesterday (wed) that Steve Forman had an “exceptionally strong and compelling” case for being allowed to remain.
Lawyers for the UK Home Office, who had claimed it was in the “public interest” to deport the percussionist, are now deciding whether to appeal.
They told an immigration tribunal in Glasgow last month that Dr Forman earned too little from his job at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to meet residency rules.
The bid to deport the 68-year-old caused outrage among Dr Forman’s supporters – who included students and musicians such as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.
Gilmour, who had said deportation would be a “tragedy”, last night declared: “I am absolutely delighted that Steve has won his appeal. Justice has been done.”
Dr Forman, originally from Los Angeles, has also performed with stars including David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and John Lennon during his long career.
Dr Forman’s lawyer, Fraser Latta, yesterday revealed that Judge John Macdonald had ruled that he could stay.
“I am delighted to advise that I have just received a decision from the First Tier Tribunal allowing Steve’s appeal under Article 8 of the ECHR.”
He added: “The Designated Immigration Judge who heard the appeal found that Steve ‘presents as not only an exceptional person but an exceptionally strong and compelling case to be allowed to remain here’.”
Dr Forman said: “The Home Office can still appeal the decision, they still have two weeks to appeal.
“I’m giddy and excited. I guess unless I get a call in the next two weeks I can get a visa and we can have one hell of a party. It’s pretty cool.
“I would like to thank everybody that wrote a letter, everybody that showed up, everybody that wished me well in the last six months. I’ve got a list of thank you letters to send out.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of my students. This is something we should all feel empowered by. Glasgow won this round. We all stood up for something that was not just about me personally, but a greater ideal.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: “We are looking forward to seeing Steve continuing his great work with students. We’re delighted for him, and that we will continue to see him around our corridors. He will still have the exact same number of hours.”
At last month’s hearing, so many of Dr Forman’s students and supporters turned up to the hearing they could not be accommodated in the court room.
A lawyer for the Home Office, who declined to give her name to journalists, told the hearing: “The public interest in this case is more than enough to justify his removal.”
She said he could not stay on the basis that he claimed no benefits, wanted to work and had committed no offences.
“The rules are the rules and the rules can’t be met in this case,” she said.
Mr Latta countered: “It is in the public interest for people who speak English to remain in the UK. It is in the public interest for people who are self-sufficient to stay in the UK.
“This is a person who is not only a teacher but also a person of value to the community.
“This is not someone who is here for monetary reasons. He is not only a teacher for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – he is infused by life here.
“This is a man who has had a considerable history of working with David Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Beach Boys and movie sound tracks such as E.T.
“His enthusiasm for what he does drips out of him.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said:
“All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration rules.
“Dr Forman’s application was refused because he could not demonstrate he met the requirements for leave to remain in the UK.
“His appeal was heard on 10 December. Until we formally receive the court’s determination it would be inappropriate to comment further on this case.”